Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sign of Peace

The American bishops have informed the CDW that they would like the Sign of Peace placed at the Offertory of the Mass, presumably so it is inline with the verse "When you bring you gift to the altar ... go and be reconciled... then bring your gift". Personally I have always understood the bringing of the gift really applied to mutual exchange of gifts at Holy Communion: we give ourselves to Christ, he gives himself us.

Personally I hate tinkering with the liturgy but if changes are to be made they should be done with understanding.
Fr Hunwicke the learned Oxford Anglican deplores the lack of serious discussion about this issue and raises an interesting thought about its origin, here is an extract but read all of it:

It seems highly likely that what happened is this. When the Our Father was introduced into the Mass, it brought with it its concluding signaculum, the Kiss of Peace. Thus the Pax in the Liturgy is not, in itself, a reconciliatory preparation for Communion, but a 'signing off' from the Our Father and the Eucharistic Prayer. We find this situation reflected in the Letter of Pope S Innocent I to the Bishop of Gubbio in 416 (PL 56 515). Troublemakers in Gubbio had been saying that it was better to follow the custom of another Church as to the position of the Peace rather than that of Rome; the Pope responds ' the Pax has to be done after all the things which I'm not allowed to mention to show that the people have given their consent to everything which is done in the mysteries and celebrated in Church, and to demonstrate that they are finished by the signaculum of the concluding Pax'. The fact that he employs the very term signaculum which had been used by Tertullian suggests that we are dealing with conventional usage widespread enough to be common to Rome and North Africa and over a period of at least two centuries.


gemoftheocean said...

They can get stuffed as far as I am concerned. These bishops are like competing alpha-dogs trying to "mark" their territory. It's not unlike the musical 1776 where the following exchange took place:

Mr. Hancock: Mr. Reed?
Mr. Reed: Among your charges against the king, you accuse him of depriving us of the benefit of trial by jury,Tthis is untrue sir, in Delaware we have always had trial by jury.
John Adams: In Massachusettes we have not.
Mr. Reed: Then I suggest the words: "In many cases" be added.
Mr. Hancock: Mr. Jefferson?
Tom McKean: [thick Scotch accent] In MANY CASES? BRILLIANT! I suppose every time you see those three words, your puny little chest will swell up with pride over your stirling contribution!

So if this is allowed to happen, no doubt there will be a few swelling chests amongst irrelevant bishops...may as well re-arrange deck chairs on the Titanic for all the good it will do. Meanwhile, a significant number of Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence...crickets chirping#&9834;...

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

The theology behind the SoP would change with its moving.

I'm all for doing the SoP EF style. No Deacon/ No Subdeacon = no congregational peace exchange. Deacon/Subdeacon = Servers only.

I've grown to dislike the sign of peace more and more as I've gotten older, and learned more about the understanding of Liturgy.

But in the OF it's optional, I say Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum is enough.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

We have been making the Sign of Peace after the bidding my view perfect..

Fr Ray Blake said...

Well, Jackie that is what the American want permission to do. I hadn't realised the Holy See had given permission for it to moved yet.

motuproprio said...

If it gets moved it will be even more of a bear garden. Much better to do without it altogether.

PeterHWright said...

In the vexed question of the signum pacis, the best thing would be for the novus ordo ritual to follow the example of the 1962 rubrics.

George said...

All that handshaking, pew jumping, silly grinning, back slapping, kissing and cuddling, arm waving and loud exchange of greetings are all fine and dandy, but AFTER Mass in the porch, outdoors or in the Church Hall over a cup of tea!

Peace to all!

PeterHWright said...

George is absolutely right.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Yes but we are TOLD to shake hands with the person next to us only!

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Oh we never make the sign of peace in weekday Masses.

Michael Clifton said...

Having read this post I now think the Sign of Peace should be placed at the end of Mass in the New Rite but immediately before the blessing so that the order could be
Priest. Go in the peace of Christ to love and serve the world (exchange of peace with near neighbour only)
Priest. "May the Blessing..etc.
The Mass is ended."

Volpius Leonius said...

Has anyone actually tried to teach the laity to do it properly?

As much as I dislike the sign of peace, it has been in its current place for hundreds of years I believe and that is enough to make me not want it moved personally.

It would be much better to simply remove it from the laity and just have the Priest do it, it was only introduced as an option and it has proven to be an option that does not work so simply remove it, makes much more sense than moving it from its centuries old position in the Mass in a desperate attempt to make it work rather than admit that it was a bad idea altogether.

Wherever they put it in the Mass I still won't like it personally.

Also I notice at the Mass I attend things aren't allowed to get out of hand because the ushers start reciting the Lamb of God almost immediately and that marks the end of the sign of peace.

The vast majority of people will follow if only someone will lead. This problem can be solved by far less drastic means.

Remove it altogether or if you must leave it in then teach the laity how they are expected to behave at the sign of peace and get some of the ushers or altar servers in loud voices to begin the lamb of God almost immediately.

Mac McLernon said...

Fr. Ray, I've given you an award HERE

georgem said...

I wish we could get rid of it altogether by wiping out "let us offer each other the sign of peace". It's a NO add-on, which I don't think exists in the EF. In some parishes it lasts two-thirds of the way into the Agnus with people practically climbing over the pews to get at startled people like me and the more you shrink back, the more determined they are to get you.
But more worryingly it appears for some to have replaced the Consecration as the pivotal moment of the Mass.
Okay, I personally hate it, but it seems popular with women and children and I have to remind myself that for an elderly person it might be one of the few human contacts they have.
Maybe the best compromise would be to place it at the final blessing.

George said...

Georgem writes 'people practically climbing over the pews to get at startled people like me'.

They're called 'pew jumpers'!, and it feels like you're on the receiving end of a pirate boarding party! Even if you are praying quietly having knelt down for the Agnus Dei, you are likely to get tapped on the shoulder and a hand shoved in front of you for that handshake!

It's disruptive to contemplation, but I suppose i have to agree that some people really love this part of the Mass, it may indeed be the only contact some have with others, but it could all be done after Mass? God Bless.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Excuse me georgem...popular with women & children! Well i'm no feminist but leave us alone..cheek!I'm not joking..sorry Fr Ray..

Just Your Average Catholic said...

All I've read previous to this post and these comments has been positive about the move of the SoP. Generally, I like the idea as it does seem to eliminate the problems some of you discussed of getting all hyped up on glad handing people right as you are supposed to be preparing for the reception of the Holy Eucharist. Thankfully, our parish does keep the parishioners fairly well contained by starting the Lamb of God fairly quickly, but it does seem to be an unnecessary distraction at that point in the Mass.

David L Alexander said...

"All I've read previous to this post and these comments has been positive about the move of the SoP."

Most of them don't know why it's where it is. Is that a good sign?

In the early church, the "holy kiss" was exchanged after what we now call the "prayer of the faithful." It retains a similar place in the Eastern rites. In the West, it was moved to shortly before communion by Pope Innocent, as a sign of acquiescence to what had taken place in the Holy Mysteries. Despite the idea having been mused over by Pope Benedict himself, the move would be an inorganic break with the early form of the Roman Rite. (Did His Holiness read his own writings before suggesting this, I wonder...)

Most complaints have less to do with its location, than with its appearance. Don't believe me, read what people actually say. (See above.) Do they muse over the theology of placement? No, they gripe about the handshaking and backslapping that goes on. Moving it to a place where it is less intrusive will not deter such an arbitrary use.

The closest thing we have in secular society, is what in South America or the Mediterranian region would be called a "Latin kiss," a light embrace off to one side, with a suggestion of a kiss on the cheek. In the traditional Solemn High Mass, it is a light embrace among clerics.

The problem is not where it is done, but HOW. Solving that problem will go a lot farther. It is astonishing that a move with so little catechetical value is being encouraged to this extent. People who say "just get rid of it" do not address the fact that it is part of the tradition of the Roman Rite; they just want the glad-handing to go away. While their sentiment is understandable, it should hardly set the tone of this conversation.

Father John Boyle said...

The Sign of Peace is of ancient tradition as far as I am aware. I can't understand opposition to it on principle. I cannot see why the people should not exchange a sign of peace. It seems that where it is done at present is in accord with the Roman tradition. Before he became Pope, Ratzinger said the sign of peace in the Roman tradition is not a sign of reconciliation but a sign of the communion which will be expressed by the Communion we shall shortly receive. Therefore the offertory is not the place, but before Communion. If done in accordance with the GIRM, i.e. modestly, without wandering round the Church or waving to people across the aisle, but a simple sign, it can be dignified. It's all a case of catechesis/formation. Couples, by the way, should not kiss each other. It's not a love-in! Changing it just shows that we have still not tired of tinkering with the Mass. Please, please, leave it alone! (Until such time as it can be properly reformed.) What right, btw, does Jackie Parkes' pp have to move the sign of peace on his own authority? He should be faithful to the GIRM, either do it at the right time or not do it at all (it is, after all, optional.)

patt s said...

let's move the SoP out to the trash bin. It has always detracted from the True Presence and has become a disruption! Dump it!
Very few would fight to save it...

patt s said...

By the way, it was supposed to be "optional" but many churches would not allow for optional. they enforced it. Just the saying of "Peace be with you" should suffic-- at the end of Mass. It really doesn't sound right, saying "Peace" to a stranger--sort of like the hippie thing of the '60's...

georgem said...

But isn't it enough for the priest to turn to the congregation and say the words and the congregation as one responding to him? It seems to have worked well enough in the past.
Btw, and this is probably apocryphal, I'm told that when the congregational exchange of peace first came in it was a kiss, but was amended rather rapidly to a handshake when it was realised that a lot of the men were positioning themselves next to the young women.
Another example of unintended consequences?
PS Jackie, Pax - didn't say all women, but only going on observation. I'll stop digging.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Well I'd kinda go for the kiss meself Fr John! Oops..& our priests seem to be making a gesture of peace from one to the other & on that note I'll finish..otherwise I'll be joining georgem diggin!